Last week NASA beancounters gave $750,000 to a joint UC San Diego/UC Berkeley team to launch what may be the most sensitive and precise search yet for life on Mars. The scientists will piggyback their equipment on the 2013 European ExoMars rover mission, and analyze soil samples from as deep as two meters below the planet surface. The device, known as the Urey Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector, will scan the soil at a sensitivity of parts per trillion, sniffing for key amino acids we associate with organic life. UC researchers have already tested the equipment in Chilean deserts. Now all they have to do is wait and hope. File under: Neato.